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Linseed Oil Substitutes

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 30 July 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what practical steps have been taken up to date to develop projects for producing substitution for linseed oil in the Colonies.

As the reply is rather long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

I am aware of the need to increase production of drying oils in the Colonial Empire, and I have already communicated on this subject with the Governments of all territories where climatic conditions may be expected to allow of the cultivation of linseed. As a result, up to 4,000 acres in Kenya are to be planted experimentally this year, the resultant crop being used for seed bulking, and trials are also being conducted in the Gambia and Mauritius. As seed becomes available, these tests will be extended to other suitable territories. As regards substitutes for linseed, tung oil which has an even higher iodine content than linseed, and is, I understand, regarded by the paint trade as the measuring stick of performance of all drying oils, including linseed, is already widely grown in Nyasaland where there is a scheme for the extension of growing on a large scale in the Vipya highlands, if the experiments now proceeding show that it promises to be an economic proposition. These trials are also being studied by the Governments of Northern Rhodesia and Tanganyika, and tung growing will be encouraged in these territories if they are successful. As regards oils with a lower iodine value than linseed oil, but which are possible substitutes, the Colonial Empire can produce rubber seed oil, soya oil, candlenut oil and conophor oil. The position regarding rubber seed oil is given in my reply of today's date to the hon. Member. With respect to soya, the Governments of all the territories which are suitable for soya bean production have been circularised, and trials Will be undertaken. Whether extended cultivation will be encouraged depends upon the results of these trials. Candlenut oil, which is produced in Fiji (and to a lesser extent in Ceylon and Malaya), and conophor oil, which is derived from a jungle plant in Nigeria and Sierra Leone, are both technically suitable as linseed oil substitutes, but there are difficulties over collecting them similar to those in the case of rubber seeds.